Sunday, June 26, 2011

The damage done by the carbon mob

I am giggling slightly about today's tale of China holding up a HUGE order for Europe's biggest airliner, on the grounds that they don't like the EU's carbon tax on use of the European airspace. The tax will come into effect next January.

The EU has been allowed to get away with taxing things that aren't theirs for too long. The unelected gougers that inhabit Brussels seem to think they own the world. Because they are essentially not answerable to anyone, there is no one to throw the out of office for raising taxes that shouldn't be raised. "No taxation without representation" is quite a good principle, which has been discarded in the name of European unity.

Their desire to tax things carboniferous, all done with the finest of motives, namely to save us from ourselves, is having an effect on all of us. Our National Treasury wants to introduce a carbon tax. Part of the thinking behind their proposal is that some nations are likely to introduce sanctions unless we have a carbon tax. Some nations? Sure - all the European nations. Their trade is suffering because they have to pay a carbon tax. Why should they make themselves uncompetitive and us more competitive? Their answer - we should be equally uncompetitive.

Never mind that all these good intentions achieve absolutely nothing. Look, for a moment, at the world's use of fossil fuels. Since 1998 it has increased by 34%. 1998 is a good year to start - because that was the year the Kyoto Protocol, designed to limit carbon emissions, came into being. Limit? Carbon emissions have increased faster than ever.

Even worse is the fact that the good intentions are having some awfully bad effects. In their desire to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, some first-world countries are encouraging the use of biofuels. They are even subsidizing biofuel production.

The food production of the world is growing faster than the population. This would be marvellous, except for the fact that the food available to feed people is actually decreasing. The result is a global surge in the price of food. We first saw this back in 2007-8. Most rational people thought the message had gotten through to Governments - do NOT subsidize biofuels.

It seems us rational people were optimists - Governments are more stupid than we thought. The subsidies continue, and food becomes much more expensive as a result. Everything that grows is being turned into alcohol - wheat, maize, rice, sugar, sorghum, even casava.

The real problem, however, is the thesis that carbon dioxide is bad for us. So ingrained has this thesis become, that excessive carbon emissions are now thought to be worse than starvation. The carbon mob are actually responsible for global malnutrition, thanks to their misplaced desire to save the planet.

Perhaps the cancellation of a megaorder for planes will finally be sufficient for them to wake up to reality - but I doubt it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Public awareness of climate change

Rajendra Pachauri, boss of the IPCC, has said "Public awareness is really going to be the key to spur a deal to avert heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas." Translated, this means we may expect to be bombarded with increasing nonsense about heat waves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

We know that the world has warmed for the past 150 years. Any changes in the weather or the sea level should be apparent. Such changes as are observable cannot be linked to more carbon dioxide in the air. Our own Weather Service fails to find any increase in the incidence of droughts or floods or heat waves, and it is their job to tell us what is happening to the weather. The sea level continues to rise at around 3mm/a, which it has done for the past 150 years. The rise appears to be the result of the end of the last ice age, 11 000 years ago, when sea levels were 120m lower than today.

So steel yourself to more IPCC nonsense - Durban COP is coming, and the Treasury wants every excuse to rape us with carbon taxes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The global rise of natural gas

There is a fascinating report just out from the International Energy Agency [IEA]. Since the 2010 report, the world has changed - gas has come into the picture big time.

When replacing other fossil fuels, natural gas can lead to lower emissions of greenhouse gases and local pollutants. It can help diversify energy supply, and so improve energy security. It can provide flexibility and back-up capacity as more variable capacity comes on line in power generation.

I could hardly have put it better myself. Natural gas is a beautiful fuel. For all the above reasons, we should be actively promoting fracking in the Karoo. If we could find significant gas there, it would revolutionize our energy scene.

Of course, some are worried about the environmental impacts. The IEA addresses this:
Use of hydraulic fracturing in unconventional gas production has raised some serious environmental concerns and tested existing regulatory regimes. Based on the available data, we estimate that shale gas produced to proper standards of environmental responsibility has slightly higher "well-to-burner" emissions than conventional gas, with the combustion of gas being the dominant source of emissions. Best practice in production, effectively monitored and regulated, can mitigate other potential environmental risks, such as excessive water use, conservation and disposal.

For those concerned that unconventional gas such as shale gas is too new or untested, it is worth noting the report that over 60% of the huge US gas market is now unconventional.

The report asks if the gap between our climate actions and our climate goals are "becoming insurmountable?" That begs the question as to whether our climate goals are realistic. They are not. They are predicated on increasing levels of climate disaster due to climate change. But the world has been warming for the past 150 years, and evidence for increases in climate catastrophes is hard to find. If the hypothesis is weak, the goals are likely to be wrong, and it is increasingly clear the goals are in the wrong place altogether. There is no rationale for a carbon tax.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Forests galore

The United Nations Environment Programme has released a report to mark World Environment Day entitled 'Forests in a Green Economy: A Synthesis'.

As you might expect, the case is wildly overstated. It claims that the devastating effects of climate change will disappear and millions of jobs will be created.

"The devastating effects of climate change" are almost impossible to see - the world is getting warmer, but only slightly. You have to look very hard to link any devastation to it being warmer, yet even a cursory glance will show significant benefits (we live longer in a warmer world, for one thing).

The claim of creating lots of jobs ignores all those who have jobs clearing forests, and who will be put out of work by reforestation. It is a classic zero sum game.

As usual, UNEP inhabits a different world from most of us, and its prescriptions are those for another world.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gaslands and fracking

The film Gaslands has had a huge influence on public opinion about fracking in the Karoo. Do we want our water bursting into flames, like they showed in the film?

I have long said that I doubted the veracity of the tale. If it were commonly associated with fracking, then someone would have reported it long ago. Fracking has been around since the 1940's and over one million holes have been fracked.

Indeed, the truth is now out - the phenomenon was first reported in 1936.

A 1976 study by the Colorado Division of Water found that this area was plagued with gas in the water problems back then. And it was naturally occurring. As the report stated there were "troublesome amounts of methane" in the water decades before fracking began. It seems that in geographical areas gas has always been in the water.

But Josh Fox knew this and chose not to put it in Gasland. I asked him about this omission at a recent screening at Northwestern University in Chicago. He said he had not included these facts that questioned his alarmism because "they were not relevant." He also dropped the bombshell that I had not been aware of that there were media reports of people lighting their water as far back as 1936. Again this was not included in Gasland because it was not relevant.

The video confession was pulled for copyright reasons, but still exists on

I haven't heard any reports that the nomination for an Oscar has been withdrawn - or of any apologies from our local activists for having misled everyone.